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Energy transition to create 60 mln solar jobs globally by 2050, study

Green Energy

The latest attempt to flesh out the employment benefits of a global energy transition has suggested the 57 million jobs estimated in the energy system last year could more than double, to 134 million, by mid-century, if a zero-carbon world is attained, pv-magazine reports.

Academics from Finland's Lappeenranta-Lahti University of Technology (LUT) and the Austral University of Chile, have published a study which estimates the solar industry will support 60 million direct jobs by 2050, up from around 7 million last year.

The job creation during a climate compliant global energy transition across the power, heat, transport, and desalination sectors by 2050 paper, published in this month's Energy, estimates solar will account for 45% of the net jobs generated worldwide as fossil fuels and nuclear are phased out in favor of renewables. Of those PV positions, the study states, 44 million will be in the large-scale electricity generation segment and 16 million supported by prosumer arrays.

The solar job numbers compare to an estimated 5% of the total to be contributed by wind power, with the authors of the study predicting 8 million wind jobs up to 2025 before the number falls back to 5-6 million out to mid-century.

The change will come when photovoltaic (PV) technology becomes more cost-effective than wind turbines sometime around the middle of the decade, according to the paper. The study's authors say their figures are more accurate than previous attempts to quantify the employment benefits of the switch to renewables because they include the direct job-creation benefits of the heating, transport and desalination sectors as well as the number of roles to be generated in electricity transmission and distribution.

The figures also include the jobs to be generated by fossil fuel and nuclear generation, principally in the field of decommissioning such facilities. The authors note, however, that while their estimates include heat and energy storage and power-to-X technologies such as green hydrogen production, the numbers do not include jobs which could be generated by privately-owned electric vehicles (EVs). 

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